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WI Meeting July 2022

Sadly, our advertised speaker was unable to make it, but, ever resourceful, our President

engaged, at the very last minute, Joanne Foat. She introduced us to the Lumberjills, otherwise known as the Women’s Timber Corps, a branch of the Women’s Land Army, that worked in Britain’s forests during World War Two. As many as 15-18,000 young women left home for the first time, aged 17-24, to fell trees with an axe and saw wood for the war effort. Doing what was thought to be ‘a man’s job’, these pioneering Lumberjills brought gender stereotypes crashing down.

The government at first refused to employ ‘the fairer sex,’ who they thought would be unable to cope with the tough work. Instead they tried to employ male British prisoners, male dockyard workers, male students and even school boys. But thousands of members of the Women’s Land Army wanted to do their bit for the war like their brothers and the government’s position became untenable.

Jo took us through their history dressed in a replica Lumberjill uniform which was deemed very risqué at the time – with large jodhpur-style trousers, thick woollen socks and brogues there was nothing shocking about it!

Jo has spent many years interviewing sixty of these remarkable women, who became known affectionately as Lumberjills, and shared the unique first-hand accounts and evocative photographs of their lives in the forest. While most of these women have now passed away, their stories are immortalised in Joanna’s book Lumberjills Britain’s Forgotten Army, an account of women’s forestry work during WW2.

What have we got in store for next month? Well, this is the month we take a break and have a meal out … but come and try us out in the Autumn when we have yet another line up of good speakers followed by the Christmas Party (and Panto) in December.


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